10/13/2004 6:45 PM ET
La Russa pregame quotes
Cards manager addresses the media before Game 1
Q. Everybody knows this is a great place to play baseball. The last couple of times you've been in the League Championship Series you've had trouble winning here. Is that just the luck of the draw or is there a reason?
TONY LaRUSSA: It's a great place to play, the fans are supportive, very passionate. Gets your adrenaline pumping. But they don't play, players play.
Last couple times when we've been here, when you get outplayed, you get beat. That happened with the Mets and the Giants.
Q. Can you think of any theory as to why Reggie Sanders has played for so many teams in so many years and are you glad you locked him up for two?
TONY LaRUSSA: You know, I started to give what I thought would be a funny answer, that our team would appreciate, and then I realized somebody would take it literally and stopped from doing it.
He's the butt of a lot of comments in the clubhouse. They would like me to say after one year, everybody gets tired of him and you get rid of him.
It's got to be economics because the guy has been productive and he's a great, outstanding teammate. The reason I think we're all happy that he's going to be around here next year, too.
Q. What do you like about Matt Morris? What are his attributes?
TONY LaRUSSA: Matt's been a top starter I think for several years. The reason is he's got plus stuff. I think he had a little period of adjustment this year where he and Dave (Duncan) went to work to add, you know, just like you take Houston. You count the number of at bats these guys had against Matt, a lot of guys have seen him. So Dunc is trying to work on adding things. I think right now he's being capable of being a better pitcher than ever because he's got a lot of weapons, he's a competitor. He's got experience. I'm looking forward to sending him out there.
Q. Can you give an update on your banged up guys, Pujols, Edmonds, Rolen, how they benefited from a couple days off?
TONY LaRUSSA: I think two days were good. We had rain here. We did get out on the field and do some running and stuff. Everybody looked like they were moving well.
I mean, I just -- I've heard them explain it, whether it's our roster, their roster, the two in New York, there's a lot of soreness that goes this time of the year. I think generally feeling pretty good.
Q. Can you talk about the impact of a best-of-five series, do you think it would be better for best-of-seven because there's so much pressure on every game in the best of five?
TONY LaRUSSA: It's not something I spend a lot of time thinking about because that's the formula they give you. Just like if you don't like your schedule, you play it.
So the formula is three out of five. I think the longer the series, the little bit better chance that a team that maybe loses a fluke game or something that's capable of coming back has the opportunity. Three out of five, if one game goes against you and another one doesn't work out, you're done pretty much. So I say I don't care, but I care about the game, but I don't even think about it. They say it's the best of five. They say this is the best of five, sure is.
Q. There are 16 right handed pitchers in this postseason. Is this a trend, there's going to be a lot of runs scored here and records broken?
TONY LaRUSSA: No, I don't think there's going to be a lot of records broken. Right handers, if they're good, they're good. We noticed that, and it's kind of unusual. Because if you've got like you know, Houston has quite a few right handed hitters; so do we, but we have some significant left handed guys. You're not faced like with Odalis Perez or something, you're not faced with, "Are you going to have to maybe pull a bench guy out?" That's an unusual thing not to get into.
I don't think it's a trend. I think it's generally perceived that just because they're left handed and you don't see as many of them, you know, left handers, I don't want to I don't know how to say it I think it's generally perceived sometimes they have a little easier time getting outs.
I see a left hander with not as good as stuff and not as sharp as a right hander that pitched the day before, he has a good game. I think that would encourage left handed starters.
Q. Tonight's game is going directly in competition with the ALCS and shown in very few markets. Are you miffed by that?
TONY LaRUSSA: I mean, you know the answer to that. This is not an exhibition game. "We won't play because nobody's watching, it doesn't count."
No, hey, I had the choice of having a night off, I was going to go to a movie, I'd sit and watch Boston and New York. That's a great series. So this game counts, and we'll have 50,000 people here that are watching it.
Q. If you had a choice, you'd watch it over your own series?
TONY LaRUSSA: I never watch an American League game over a National League game (laughter).
Q. Can you talk about the rising confidence in the Houston Astros, and the difference between their play pre- All-Star break and afterwards?
TONY LaRUSSA: It's a great cycle that you get going for you. You get a little success, more confidence, more success, more confidence. They've had that working.
They're coming in now a confident ballclub. It's confident for no reason. People talk about our lineup. They have a nice lineup as well. A lot of guys know how to play the game.
So I would think -- they got hit really hard, and they still hit. You lose Wade Miller and Andy Pettitte, those are two big hits. But that's why you play for six months. And if you can get off to a good start and you can't finish it off, then you're not the best team. They were the best wildcard team and they're coming in with a lot of steam.
I mean, they create a lot of problems for a club to beat. But, you know, we do, too, that's why I expect it to be a really good series.
Q. In this postseason we've seen so many managers get extra innings out of their closers. With your bullpen, you don't have to do that. Can you talk about how nice it is not to have to ask your closer to go extra innings?
TONY LaRUSSA: I mean, it's entirely possible to get Izzy (Isringhausen) in there today. I think one of the things we all look at is how rested he is, if he's rested and the matchups, you think the game is there, you don't want to get beat with your closer not pitching in the game.
I watched every game that was played -- or if I could have a chance to watch it, analyze it -- there isn't one move any manager made with a closer that if I was there I wouldn't have made the same one.
I mean, I look at -- I just laugh because the life of the manager is, if it works, it's a good move; if it doesn't work, it's a bad move. The Gardenhire move, I don't think there was even a close call there. The only thing I would have asked him is if they didn't score, would he have pitched that third inning. I don't know if he would have or not. But once they scored, you send him out there. The problem is he walked Cairo.
Next day, Bobby (Cox) uses Smoltz three innings and saved the game. Why was one right? It's this time of the year, what you're allowed to do is push players and pitchers that you've saved or taken care of all year long because the postseason, every game, it can potentially be a swing game.
So to answer your question, we have nice depth in the bullpen, but Izzy is our big guy. He may pitch in the eighth today and he's ready because he hasn't pitched since what is it Sunday.
Q. They're starting two guys here who are on paper not their strongest guys. If you were sitting over there, would you feel pretty good about yourself going home, if you got one game here?
TONY LaRUSSA: I'm not going to try to answer if I was them. They'll answer themselves. I know them, they're going to try to win two games.
Backe is pitching today, I bet you they're excited about sending him out there. He's got good stuff. He's responded very well to September starts and October. We're looking at this as this guy's got three or four Major League pitches.
And if a Major League pitcher with good stuff makes his pitches, he gets good hitters out. Woody's (Williams) got a good lineup to face.
I'm concerned about this game. Tomorrow you got the day off afterwards, if their starter struggles, they empty their bullpen. I think we're going to try and separate a game. I don't know if they're looking for a formula, that stuff about splitting on the road. I think you separate the game, try to win each one you play, and try to get four as fast as you can.
We're concerned if they can pitch well enough against our lineup to shut us down. We're going to try to not let that happen.
Q. Do you consider this a bullpen to bullpen advantage for the Cardinals in this series?
TONY LaRUSSA: I tell you exactly what I consider. I think it's a really good question because it's a time where a lot of us are speculating about on paper. I don't think really, if you really get serious about it, I don't think trying to figure advantages makes any sense at all. Paper is paper and it's fun to evaluate this and that. You evaluate the beginning of the year who might you just don't know.
I think as long as the other team is good enough or we're good enough, anything's liable to happen. Their bullpen is good enough to get us out. Our bullpen is good enough to get them out. Backe is good enough to shut us out; Woody can shut them out. That's why you play the game. I really don't, I mean, I don't think you have to do matchup; we got the better this, they got the better that.
Unless there's a real big advantage, which I don't see anywhere in any category, any position, it's guys play and let's see who does the best.
Q. Is your roster the same?
TONY LaRUSSA: Yes.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.